Passionate about sports
Photographer Q & A
Q: Sports luminaries such as Bud Selig, Bob Costas and Bob Uecker have praised your work. What do you think makes a sports image not just exciting, but reflective as well?
A: People are passionate about sports and the players are passionate when they are competing. The sports arena is a place where raw emotion is often on display. And it's not always noisy. You'll find some incredibly reflective moments in sports.
Q: Is there a baseball shot in your extensive portfolio that is particularly poignant for you?
A: That's a tough one, but I'd have to say the portrait of Cal Ripken, Jr. standing next to the Lou Gehrig statue at Yankee Stadium. At the time, he was on pace to break Gehrig's record of consecutive games played, but because he was still a ways off from accomplishing this goal, he was a little reluctant to pose with the statue. In the end, we were both really happy to have that picture.
Q: What or who inspired you to become a photographer?
A: My mentor was Sports Illustrated photographer Herb Scharfman, whom I met in the 70's when he came to Milwaukee for an SI assignment. I was Brewers' team photographer and charged with showing him around. He was so generous and gracious and encouraged me in an enormous way. Also, Mark Kauffmann and John Zimmerman at Sports Illustrated influenced in an enormous way.
Q: Can you give our readers a little tip on how to capture an action shot?
A: If you're shooting a sport such as baseball, you have to know the sport inside and out. A successful action shooter anticipates where the ball will likely go and what kind of plays certain players and teams are known for. Technology has come such a long way – it's a huge bonus for shooters today.
Q: You're coming out with a new book about MLB next spring? Can you tell us about the theme?
A: The book is called, A Baseball Life, and showcases photos from 40 years of my career. It's divided into decades: the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, and each section is introduced with an essay from one of the best baseball writers (turned TV guys) in the business: Tim Kurkjian, Peter Gammons, Tom Verducci, and Leigh Montville. Bob Costas contributed the introduction and the foreword is by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. I was really honored that these folks took the time to make these incredibly thoughtful contributions.
Q: Saltwater fishing is your current focus. What draws you to it as a sportsman and as a photographer?
A: First of all, I love to fish, but as my wife says, it's hard to fish and make pictures at the same time, so when I'm shooting I can't fish. Really, I just love the outdoors, especially the Florida Keys, and the peacefulness of it and the vastness. I especially love the water and the clouds, the sky, the wildlife and the light on the water just naturally lend themselves to great pictures.
Q: Do you have a saltwater-themed project in mind for the future?
A: One of my favorite assignments was when an editor at Field & Stream came to the Florida Keys a few years ago with the goal of catching 50 Fish for his 50th birthday. My friends at Bud N' Mary's Marina in Islamorada literally hooked him up. He did it in three days – 50 different species including a broadbill swordfish. That one is hard to top, but one of my passion projects is documenting the everyday life of people (lobstermen, anglers, etc.) in the Florida Keys.
Visit Ronald C. Modra's web site for an up-close view of his rich and varied portfolio. Enjoy a beautiful view of Florida Keys fly-fishing on NationalGeographic.com. And check out the SI Vault for a history of Ron's stunning cover shots.
Ron's Lowepro gear includes:
Legendary sports photographer Ronald C. Modra easily could rest on his laurels with such an impressive resume. 70 cover shots for Sports Illustrated and 23 years shooting for that publication. Author and photographer of the critically acclaimed book: Reflections of the Game: Lives in Baseball (Willow Creek Press). And a contributing photographer for Time, Newsweek, National Geographic and New York Magazine (plus many others). Ron's other accomplishments include: ten collaborative books with his wife, writer M.B. Roberts; commercial work for Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Reebok and NASCAR; and a book coming out in spring 2013 about 40 years shooting for Major League Baseball (with a forward by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig).
But Ron's love of the outdoors and saltwater fishing in his home state of Florida keeps him busy with a rod and a camera. And he is a frequent contributor to publications like Saltwater Sportsman, Florida Sportsman, Sport Fishing, Gray's Sporting Journal and Field & Stream. We recently caught up with Ron and asked a few questions about the art of sports photography, his next projects and the lure (pun not intended…really!) of saltwater fishing.